How to Tweak Unity Desktop Environment Using Unsettings

How to Tweak Unity Desktop Environment Using Unsettings

There are times when you use an Ubuntu machine that contains some cool customizations, especially those related to Unity. The next thing you want is to have all those (or at-least some of those) on your machine. But what prevents from you from doing this is the time and effort that you’ll have to put in to apply each customization on your machine.

If you’ve been through such a situation, here is some good news: there are certain tools that make this process a cake walk, with some of them even providing an option to automate the whole process. One such tool is “Unsettings,” which we’re going to discuss in this article.


“Unsettings” is a graphical tool that lets you easily change some of the Unity settings. For example: those related to launcher, dash, windows, desktop, fonts, themes, keyboard, and more. However, an important point to keep in mind is that the tool can only change settings at user level, which means you can’t use it to change global settings or do anything else that needs root privileges.

Download and install

You can easily download and install “Unsettings” by running the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:diesch/testing
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install unsettings

If you want, you can also download the tool’s source code; instructions for this are available on its official website.


Once you’re done downloading and installing the software, you can easily launch it by typing “Unsettings” in Dash. Here’s what the Unsettings window looks like.


As you can see in the image above, on the left there’s a vertical list of entities whose settings can be tweaked using this tool – you need to click on the entity to be able to see the settings options that are available for it. Launcher is the one that is selected by default, and there are various settings options available for it. You can change any of the settings and then click the “Apply settings” button at the bottom to apply it.

For example, I decreased the size of the launcher to half, e.g. from 48 to 24,


and then clicked the “Apply settings” button to bring the new size into effect.


You can see that I could easily change the launcher size this way. Similarly, there are many other settings options that you can tweak.

One thing that I was looking forward to was whether I could easily turn off global menu in Unity using this tool. For this, I clicked Windows on the left, and there was an option to turn off the Global menu.


Although there was a note that the option may not work in some programs, I went ahead and turned it off and clicked the “Apply settings” button. What followed was a message indicating that the change will be reflected the next time you log in.


I did exactly that, and the global menu was gone.

Save and import settings

One of the most useful features of “Unsettings” is that it lets you save your current settings to a file which you can load later to apply all the changes automatically. This feature could help you in the scenario we discussed in the beginning of this article.

To use the feature, first make the changes, and then click the save icon present in the upper left corner of the “Unsettings” window. For example, I reduced the launcher size to 18 and then saved this setting in a file named “unsettings-settings-file.”

Now, to load the settings file we just created, click the folder icon that sits next to the save icon. As the file loads, the new settings are also loaded – see the launch size in the screen-shot below.


Now all you need to do is to click the “Apply settings” button to bring the change into effect.


As you have observed by now, the USP of “Unsettings” is the ease with which you can make the customizations. This, coupled with the fact that the tool lets you save and load these settings, makes it all more useful. However, a thing to remember here is that “Unsettings” is beta software which means that it could have bugs, so as the developer says, “Use it at your own risk.”

Himanshu Arora
Himanshu Arora

Himanshu Arora is a freelance technical writer by profession but a software programmer and Linux researcher at heart. He covers software tutorials, reviews, tips/tricks, and more. Some of his articles have been featured on IBM developerworks, ComputerWorld, and in Linux Journal.

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